After last week’s Women’s World Championship in Egypt, Iain Spragg highlights five key talking points from the tournament ahead of the eagerly-anticipated PSA World Series Finals in Dubai in June
A league of her own
World no. 1 Nour El Sherbini had endured a lean time since she became world champion in Kuala Lumpur 12 months ago but with Dubai looming large, the Egyptian rediscovered her spark in timely fashion at the World Championship. The 21-year-old hadn’t lifted a major trophy since her triumph in Malaysia in 2016 but she was back to her irrepressible best to successfully defend her title after a 3-1 victory in the final over compatriot Raneem El Welily. El Sherbini dropped just one game all tournament en route to her second world crown to underline her status as the favourite for the PSA World Series Finals.
Camille Serme had been enjoying the best season of her career, leading the standings for the PSA World Series Finals since October with her maiden victory in the US Open, but she 3 looked out of sorts in Egypt. The French star was untroubled in the early rounds, despatching Salma Hany Ibrahim and Emily Whitlock without losing a single game, but the 28-year-old struggled in the last eight against 12th seed Joshna Chinappa, taken to a deciding game by the Indian, and was then comprehensively outplayed by Raneem El Welily in the semi-final, going down 3-1.
Laura Massaro was in sensational form in 2016 when she became the PSA World Series Finals champion, beating Raneem El Welily in a dramatic five-game thriller, but the English player only qualified for this year’s finals in fifth place. Massaro showed little sign of a return to top form in Egypt, losing to El Welily in four games at the quarter-final stage.
With three of the four World Championship semi-finalists hailing from Egypt, the North African country’s chances of success at the PSA World Series Finals look strong. The trio – Nour El Sherbini, Nouran Gohar and Raneem El Welily – are all in the top five in the latest PSA world rankings and return to Dubai after playing in last year’s finals.
In too deep for Waters
Alison Waters finished ninth in the standings for the PSA Dubai World Series Finals but qualified for the eight-player event following Amanda Sobhy’s injury in March. The English player, however, looks unlikely to make an impact in Dubai based on the evidence of her performance at the World Championship. Waters beat Hana Ramadan 3-1 in the first round but crashed out of the tournament just two days later when she was overpowered by Joshna Chinappa in five games.